If you’re like most of us, you’ve spent the last year mainly at home. This means you and your partner or family have spent much more time together in close quarters than you have in the past. While all of this time together may have been a good bonding experience, it means you haven’t had hardly any time at all to yourself. Time spent alone isn’t just sort of nice every once in a while. Researchers tell us it is actually vital for overall wellbeing.
Think of time spent in solitude as “me time,” quite literally. “Solitude is an intentional period of time set aside to reconnect with yourself,” says Rachel Astarte, psychotherapist, certified life coach and author. “Ideally, it is designed to recharge your batteries so that you can give back to the world.” Think about that for a moment. Experts tell us that spending time alone is needed so we can be our best and give the most when we’re with others.
If you feel guilty prioritizing yourself over others for a few hours of self-care or equate being alone to being lonely, consider the following health benefits of time spent in solitude:
The Benefits of Time Spent Alone
#1 You’ll feel less stress. Stress causes our bodies to enter into the protective fight, flight, or freeze mode. Essentially, your body is constantly in panic mode. This affects everything from how hard it is to fall asleep at night to your ability to do your job to the way you treat others. Intentional solitude spent doing what gives you joy, like yoga, jogging, puzzles, or hiking, keeps you in a safe, calm state of mind so your stress hormones are not triggered.
#2 You’ll connect with your spirituality. It’s pretty close to impossible to meditate or pray while someone is sitting right next to you watching television. Solitude allows us to rediscover who we are and the most spiritually evolved self we can be. It gives us time to re-familiarize ourselves with our desires, our drives, and our passions.
#3 You’ll have renewed energy. Giving to others all the time is rewarding, but it also can be draining. As the old saying goes “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” There is simply not enough to give others if you never give back to yourself. Spending time helps to replenish your energy stores so you can return to your daily life with a full tank.
Where and How to Spend Time Alone
Create a space for your solitude, like a spot in nature or a quiet room in your home. It can even be in bed! Anywhere that allows you to reconnect and recharge will do. Do what you love to do most during this time with yourself. It may be reading, deep breaths, taking a bath, or going on a long walk. There’s really no wrong way to spend time alone as long as you find joy in it.
It’s worth noting that being alone and being lonely are two extremely different things. Connections with loved ones are essential for your mental health. Hugging, chatting on the phone, connecting over coffee, and over interpersonal connections make us feel happy, valued, and part of a community. So, how much alone time should you have and how much time with others should you have? The answer will be unique to you. Your “perfect mix” is heavily influenced by your overall personality. Extroverts often dislike being alone too much while introverts tend to prefer it. That being said, introverted people should not be alone all the time. Even the most introverted of people need a network of support and social connections. Being an extrovert does not mean that you aren’t capable of enjoying your own company and benefiting from some time in solitude. Even if you naturally seek the company of a crowd, you can learn how to enjoy a little time to yourself now and then. The key for the best mental health possible is to find the right balance in your life.
It is time to release your guilt about wanting some me time! Take these minutes or hours for you and you alone. You can feel good about it, knowing that ultimately it will make you a better person, spouse, parent, friend, and work colleague.